Friday, October 28, 2005


Out late listening to Mark O’Connor in a “hot swing” Django Reinhardt / Stéphane Grappelli configuration: Jon Burr (bass), Bryan Sutton (guitar), Howard Alden (seven string guitar) and Roberta Gambarini (vocals). Mostly I admired the way the bassist threw himself like a rag doll dangling down off the top of th’upright, and work’d ’s mouth as if it were full of jawbreakers. That and Roberta Gambarini’s scat-quotations of Sonny Stitt, Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins renditions of “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” Incroyable.

Stumbled into a little book publish’d by Archipelago Books, Julio Cortázar’s Diary of Andrés Fava, translated by Anne McLean:
Poetry wants to be metaphysics and sometimes achieve it with Lamartine or Valéry. English poetry does it without trying, it emerges on the metaphysical level, which is its firmament and its grace.

        Where Mallarmé arrives with his last exhausting wingbeat, Shelley is already naturally up there like a treetop. There is nothing restrictive in this differentiation I amuse myself with pointing out. In essence the achievements are no different, but the French poem emerges from the forge like the diamond from the stone cutter; the English verse shines with that ease we admire in the fish, or in the tennis player who returns a shot almost without moving.
I note that Archipelago Books (a terrific list, authors René Crevel, Novalis, João Cabral de Melo Neto, Georg Büchner, Witold Gombrowicz, Mahmoud Darwish, and Francis Ponge, among others, translated by Robert Bononno, David Hinton, Richard Howard, Ralph Manheim, Ezra Pound, Richard Sieburth, and Richard Zenith, among others) lists “Book Design by David Bullen Design.” Former designer of those old covetable North Point books.

Aboard H. M. S. Victory and patrolling the Mediterranean in order to “contain” the French fleet, Admiral Lord Nelson (first name Horatio, daughter with Emma Hamilton named Horatia) writes to Lady Hamilton (busy furnishing the estate at Merton—outside London—that he’d bought):
I agree to African parrots on the veranda.